Society has forever tried
to tell homosexual people what they can and can't be.
- You can't exist and we will take your life. Indeed
the last hanging of a gay man in the British Empire happened in Australia in
1867. Some African and Middle
Eastern counties still have the death penalty for homosexual men.
- We will remove you from our society and lock
you away for your 'crime' of being gay every Australian state once said. But
state by state that law was abolished; the last being Tasmania in 1997.
- You are sick mental health professionals told
us and we will cure you with electric shocks, drugs, aversion therapy and
lobotomies. But in 1957 Dr Evelyn Hooker's research demonstrated that self-identified homosexuals were no
different in social adjustment than the general population. Finally in 1973 the
American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental
- You can’t be proud of being gay or lesbian
you should feel ashamed they told us. We hid in closets. But then we defied
that, came out and once a year march in Pride celebrations to remind society
and ourselves that our orientation is nothing to be ashamed of.
- You can't maintain long term relationships we
were told and even in our own community some chose to believe that lie. But our
relationships have stood the test of time and last as long as heterosexuals.
Some twelve months, some several years and some a lifetime.
- You can’t be parents or raise well balanced
children they told us. But our families are as loving, supportive and strong as
any 'normal' family. Some better.
- For decades we have been told that you can't
be a Christian, religious, spiritual and gay. But in 1968 Rev Troy Perry dared
to reject that belief and, a year before Stonewall, met in a lounge room in Los
Angeles with several other Christians and birthed the Metropolitan Community
Church. The gay Christian movement, once non-existent, has grown exponentially
(google 'gay christian') and 86 separate denominations in 46 countries now
welcome and affirm LGBT people.
Some within our community
preach the same message conservative churches do. Take your pick they say. It's
one or the other. You can't be both gay and a Christian. This is not helpful,
especially to young gay people growing up in a faith community, and we should reject
that message whoever is preaching it.
Because we live in a
democratic country. And in a democratic country you can live, love and be proud
as a gay person and you can choose to be an atheist, Buddhist, Christian,
Moslem or Jew.
We're here, We're
queer, And we believe. Churches are getting used to the new reality and increasingly so is our community.
You no longer have to choose between your faith and your sexuality. An integrated, congruous life is a healthy life.
© Anthony Venn-Brown
Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.
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